AltLuxe

Posts from the “AltLuxe: the New Luxury” Category

Care about sustainability? Get serious about your brand.

Posted on January 23, 2018

“Brand” is one of those words – a little like “luxury”– that feels the very antithesis of “sustainability”. For many, it bespeaks glossy magazine ads, splashy parties, and a general glitz that feels gross, vulgar. And in many ways it is, as it pumps up demand for things we don’t want. But ironically, for all the importance of using sustainable materials and processes, the single most important act of sustainability is to not create more waste to begin with. In our society, waste implies that there is no market demand for a given item and that while it may have inherent value, it doesn’t have economic value. And things that lack economic value are waste. SO the imperative is to create value. One of…

Getting experiential retail right

Posted on July 31, 2017

Summer 2017. In the US, the retail carnage continues, with each week bringing another story of store closures and bankruptcies. Having vanquished all but the most scrappy book, electronics, and mall stores, Amazon is making its move into brick and mortar stores, and mulling its plans for pharmacy. Neiman Marcus can’t even get itself bought. And Nordstrom is taking itself private. Talk of retail reinvention is everywhere. Notably absent in much of the conversation are explorations addressing the most crucial and enduring parts of the retail equation: + creating covetable products; + having a clear and differentiated brand (what, as a merchant, do you stand for); + good old customer service. Instead, much of the talk has centered on changing up the “retail experience”.…

Skin deep

Posted on March 14, 2016

Some days, I feel I’m drowning in imagery. It’s not just the time spent in front of my computer or phone that’s the culprit. There’s the extraordinarily good stuff on TV: Netflix and House of Cards and Game of Thrones and Empire and The Americans and Downton Abbey…There are the print magazines with which I’m obsessed …  There’s the constant design image grazing I do for work, the FOMO (as in, “Didn’t you see that great room / sofa / tile installation / wooden spoon on insta?”) and the constant battle to find the right images, get the rights, edit them, get them in … there’s even the beauty of where I live and work – the sunsets, the rain, the interiors, the products, the factory, the ironic streetscapes (or…

The thing about things

Posted on September 7, 2015

At long last, I’m weighing in on the unlikely book that blew the minds of publishers everywhere: a book from a little known (in the West, at least) Japanese home organization consultant. I’m of course talking about Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. But I’m not that surprised. Because the book taps into a very deep craving for the values she’s espousing. The values of pleasure and joy and ruthlessness and clarity. The book is not just another self-help book (though there are some embarrassingly awesome ideas on how to organize your underwear drawer): it’s a philosophy for living and even consuming. For those who’ve been otherwise occupied, the book is nominally about de-cluttering. But it’s not it’s not the usual one about…

End of empire stuff

Posted on August 2, 2015

Despite the fact that the world is full of strife on one end and bad taste on the other,  I’m not one to let these things get me too terribly down. But there was one thing that really got me depressed and truth be told, disgusted. Entitled “Instagram: Retail’s Holy Grail” (behind the FT paywall) the piece reported that  “millennial females’ anxieties about appearing too many times in the same outfit in their internet photographs is driving fundamental changes in the way they shop.” Selfie culture is driving Millennialistas to buy cheaper, more often. Says Jamie Merman, an analyst for Sanford Bernstein, “Faster is absolutely better because part of the selfie phenomenon is that women want changing trends, and current trends, quicker.” So wrong. Vile, in fact. They sell or…

Lessons on pleasure from Mandy Aftel

Posted on December 7, 2014

I recently had a chance to interview one of my favorite people, Mandy Aftel (the artisan fragrance genius), about her book, Fragrant, one of the best books of the year, perhaps the decade. (Read more here, then make sure you pick up her book.) As our conversation often does, it meandered around to the topic of luxury and pleasure. It’s easy to think that someone in the field of fragrance – and in particular the fragrance industrial complex with its preponderance of glitzy ads, celebrity scents, and its ties to the the 20th century’s notions of luxury and sensuality – might be sucked into the norms of the industry. But she’s honed her own sensibility, values and ethos along the way and precisely because of the prevailing…

What will you leave behind?

Posted on September 14, 2014

What is this stuff that surrounds us and what does it mean? A great deal of this blog is about what to buy (or rather what not to) and how to relate to what you buy but when all is said and done – and I do mean done – what do you leave behind, what does it say about you, what is its true value? This subject’s been on my mind a great deal, as I sort through the things my mother left behind. It’s been so interesting a journey on so many levels. I don’t mean that cynically or snarkily or as a euphemism for feeling awful. I mean it’s been truly interesting: an education in the notions of value, of enduring…

Understated Luxe

Posted on May 31, 2014

A nice summation on the alt luxe look, via an interview by the fab Sarah Lonsdale of Remodeslita with Richard Ostell. Bottom line: Form follows feeling: the incredible importance of emotion in design Trust your intuition Design for now Mix different textures Use humble materials: “Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry.” Love that quote from Leonard Koren’s book Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers. Surround yourself with the real deal Balance old with new Stick with a neutral palette Mix styles. “But don’t do it just for decoration.” Yes. Practice restraint. “Know when to stop.” Rules to live by for more than interior design, I think. More images and text over on Remodelista.

Time to do some taking

Posted on May 27, 2014

The other day, I was sitting and chatting with a new friend – an art impresario – and listening to her story about how she discovered her latest artist. She used a charming, somewhat old fashioned, almost European phrase three times in as many sentences and I was suddenly struck with how unexpectedly wise that turn of phrase was. It was a simple and common enough two word phrase: “took notice”. Not “I noticed” but rather, “I took notice”. “I noticed” is passive, as in something drifted by your consciousness, and it registered there, however lightly.  “Taking” notice, is active, as in paying attention, more intensely, more insistently. You sit up and take notice. You don’t just observe: you examine, you query, you internalize, you grapple, you…

The luxury of time

Posted on April 12, 2014

There’s one thing that keeps coming up in conversations about luxury, and it has nothing to do with stuff and things and sensuality. It doesn’t even cost money, not in the absolute, so it seems to feel less status-y, more wholesome. That “thing” of course, is time. The luxury of doing nothing. The luxury of hanging out with friends. The luxury of focus. The luxury of time to do nothing. The luxury of an afternoon thats unplanned and unstructured, where you go with the flow of desire or instinct. (Sounds great to me.) When we’re running about working, projecting, parenting, investing in our relationships/our bodies/our sanity, of course time feels like a luxury. Of course time feels precious and rare. But is time inherently a…